I hoped you enjoyed last week’s nature diary. Could you think of any particular smells reminiscent of summer wildlife? The thing that always comes to mind for me is the smell after it rains on a hot summer’s day; it’s very earthy and refreshing.
Something I’ve wanted to write about for a while are swifts. These guys are one of the symbols of summer for me and I am lucky enough to have them near to where I live. I hear them almost every evening and although I like the sound they make, my bird book doesn’t make it sound that nice, ‘various shrill, monotone, ringing screams…’ Of an evening you often hear a chorus of them screaming as they fly over rooftops in search of their dinner.
Because swifts have very long wings and short legs, most can’t take off if they end up on the ground. Once they’ve landed they will inevitably die. If you happen to find one that has no obvious injuries, the best thing to do is to take it to an upstairs window and place the bird on your hand facing outside. Raise and lower your arm so that the bird can feel the air under its wings and it should take off.
If it doesn’t want to fly away then the best thing to do is put it in a box, somewhere comfortable and dark. It won’t be able to pick food off the ground so you will need to give it some water on the end of a cotton bud or your finger. These birds are notoriously difficult to look after so it is really important to phone the SSPCA or your local rescue centre as soon as you can.
Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger